Research line 4: Energy-efficiency measures in SMEs

Intensifying the adoption of energy-efficiency measures in micro/smaller SMEs.

This research line provides an understanding of how small and micro-entrepreneurs can adopt a more pro-environmental behaviour – through improved energy efficiency – in the context of the Green Deal.

It will identify the main drivers and obstacles to the adoption of a more pro-environmental behaviour in SME management and analyse how such behaviour is influenced by the individual behaviour of its managers, employees, suppliers and customers. Relevant work-related policies (e.g. teleworking) will also be the focus, in order to mitigate the direct and indirect impact of SMEs on the environment. 

Research approach

The research will draw on theory and methods from sociology, psychology, economic sciences and gender studies. Five case studies will be implemented in Belgium, Greece, Italy, Norway and Romania.

Research cycle #1

May 2022 – April 2023

Narratives will provide insight into how SMEs deal with the issue of energy efficiency and, more generally, with reducing the impact of their activities on climate change. The focus will be on the most disadvantaged entrepreneurs as well as on “green” entrepreneurs. The expected outputs of this cycle include: 

  • 50 narrative summaries,  
  • 5 country level reports,  
  • a consolidated research line report. 


Research Cycle #2

April 2023 – January 2025 

Experimental studies will include longitudinal observation of entrepreneurs, involvement of key informants through discussion groups and one-to-one interviews, desk research on companies and entrepreneurial associations and networks. The expected outputs of this cycle are: 

  • a report on key findings, 
  • a report on interdependencies and best strategies. 


Expected impacts

Overall, the research line will: 

  • provide a broadly inclusive overview, both from an interdisciplinary perspective and in terms of the wide range of actors in the entrepreneurial and energy ecosystems that will be involved; 
  • identify obstacles to the adoption of a more pro-environmental approach in the management of SMEs (such as reluctance due to a lack of sensitivity to environmental issues, lack of qualified human resources, economic/financial issues, lack of information, normative and/or regulatory difficulties, weak medium and long-term planning capacities); 
  • establish connections with existing bottom-up initiatives addressing the theme of energy-efficiency measures in SMEs across EU and beyond – and thereby contribute with knowledge on how to better mitigate SMEs’ impact on climate change within the context of the Green Deal.


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